The first Mosque was built by the first community of Muslims (umma) in Medina el-Nabi (City of the Prophet) near the western coast of the Arabian Peninsula.
Every Muslim contributed contributed their part the Mosque functioned as a community center along with being a house of prayer. The first Mosque was not opulent – there were no fine carpets or Arabesque architecture – and God does not require his house to be grand, only for it to be built by men of conscience and pure faith.
Muslims are strictly prohibited from drawing any prophets or anything with a soul. The former is prohibited at all times while the latter does not constitute “Islamic art”. But Muslims wanted to showcase the beauty of their faith and had to find a way to do so without incorporating human or animal images. Thus the Arabs turned the holy words of the Qur’an al-Karim into art and invented calligraphy. The word become the art. And the beauty of the Mosque become more important since the architecture became the structural illustration of the majestic nature of Islam. Muslims cannot draw images of the Prophet Muhammad (saw) and his struggle in the name of God to emotionally touch believers and move people to conversion. Thus the architecture in its own way must emotionally touch Muslims and non-Muslims. And Muslims – no different then Catholics and the extraordinary architecture one finds in Italy – dedicate themselves to designing stunning Mosques.
Throughout Islamic history, the art of Mosque building has been the handiwork of men. No single Muslim designed more landmark Mosques than the Ottoman architecture Sinan, who designed more than 300 buildings (not all Mosques) of which the Blue Mosque is the most famous:
But in recent years, Muslim women have been rising is a force in Islamic architecture. The Iraqi-British modernist architecture Zaha Hadid has been commissioned by Saudi Arabia to be a team of two to redesign the most important Mosque in Islam: The Grand Mosque of Mecca.
And a Turkish woman recently become the first in the country and in Islam to design a Mosque:
Zeynep Fadillioglu is one member of a team of interior designers and architects overseeing the construction of the Sakirin Mosque. It is Fadillioglu’s first mosque.
“I think I don’t know of any other person — a woman — who has designed a mosque before,” she says. . . .
In the mosque, Fadillioglu is putting a contemporary spin on religious art from the Ottoman era.
The iron on the mosque’s enormous iron and glass facade was hand-crafted by specialists in Istanbul, Fadillioglu says. “The glass etching has got different layers of gilding on it, which is from verses of the Koran,” she says. “We wanted people to feel more left alone with God in this place, rather then being distracted by too much ornamentation. I think that makes it more contemporary at the same time”
Fadillioglu also brought in other female artists to help her on the project.
On one particular day, beneath the mosque’s 130-foot diameter dome, Nahide Buyukkaymakci instructs a worker on how to hang dozens of blown-glass rain drops from an asymmetrical bronze and Plexiglas chandelier.
The glass drops are inspired by a prayer that says Allah’s light should fall on you like rain, Buyukkaymakci explains.
Muslim woman are equals before God. And it is about time society embraced their touch in building the homes of Allah.